In the past few weeks, I've read three or four versions of the same article on different marketing blogs. They all had the same examples, the same tips, and even the same statistics. It's ironic, because a lot of those articles and videos were about content, with promises of the best and newest content marketing tips. It's frustrating.
Because when you're researching content tips and trends, it's challenging to sort the good from the bad. Which ones must enterprises, small businesses, and startups adopt? More importantly, which ones can you ignore? In this piece, I'll discuss the content marketing trends that have value, and the ones you can go ahead and forget for now.
Never Forget This About Content Marketing Trends
If you're thinking about trying out a content marketing trend, the first thing to consider is your customer. For a while, Snapchat was (and for some, still is) a useful marketing tool, but it started as a trend. A few businesses adopted it, but your customer or audience wasn't using Snapchat, it was worth skipping. When you use tactics that don't make sense for your customer, you'll only invest time and resources into a strategy that won't drive significant results.
However, if a trend does make sense for your target audience, it can be worth trying out. Here are the current content marketing trends floating around the Internet, and whether or not there's any evidence that they'll work.
Trend #1: Thinking Content Marketing Isn't Effective Anymore
The idea that content marketing isn't useful anymore is more about the approach to content. The traditional process of creating a content marketing strategy is fading, and companies using newer approaches are doing better than ever.
These approaches include:
Letting your customers binge.
I'm not talking about binge-watching Orange Is The New Black. When it comes to content marketing, this is more about increasing your blog frequency and following a regular content schedule. Generally speaking, companies that are publishing at least 16+ blog posts per month get 3.5X more traffic than companies that share 0-4 monthly posts.
As a result, a weekly publication, such as Whiteboard Friday by Moz, could be an excellent way to hit that metric. I know I go back and re-watch those videos to get more insights into the topics Rand Fishkin covers. There are at least 20 episodes about marketing psychology, which is an interest that a lot of business owners have.
Using keyword clusters.
Keywords are still critical to content marketing, but when you're developing a strategy, you should first focus on a few broad topics to cover. From there, you can create a content strategy that includes topic clusters.
You can start creating better content that delivers more ROI with HubSpot's topic cluster tool, a robust keyword strategy and tools, and your buyer personas. We also use The Lean Startup Canvas, which helps us identify all of the places our customer is looking for answers to their challenges.
Going Pirate Radio.
Podcasts are all the rage, and some of the best business podcasts of 2018 are reaping the benefits. Weekly podcast listeners consume five shows per week on average, and 26% (73 million people) listen to podcasts every month. You can easily find a niche to cover and produce a podcast or internet radio show that fits the interests of your customer.
Shopify does a great job with their podcast, Thank God it’s Monday. While no one is a fan on Mondays, Shopify's podcast appeals to their customer, an entrepreneur or founder that loves the hustle and bustle of the American workplace. Even though it's a company podcast, episodes that feature a marketing guru like Seth Godin or the secret to successful crowdfunding are intriguing, and they're not about Shopify products.
Trend #2: Video Marketing Will Reign Supreme
Video marketing is a hot commodity for companies. According to HubSpot, 81% of businesses use video as a marketing tool. It's a significant increase from 2017, where HubSpot reported that 63% of companies were adopting the tactic.
And seeing that the average user spends 88% more time on a website with video, it's a worthwhile endeavor for your content marketing efforts. Companies from all industries are continuing to benefit from it.
- Majestic Heli Ski gets half of their skiers from their YouTube content.
- Unbounce collects thousands of leads using video and Wistia email forms.
- Garmin increases brand awareness using video on Facebook and Instagram.
However, you should ignore the idea that video marketing is everything you need. It may reign supreme for a while, but you can't depend only on one tactic to get you ahead. Audiences change, and if you invest too much in video marketing, you may neglect other potential customers who prefer different channels or formats.
If you decide to try video marketing and incorporate it into your other efforts, make sure you do it the right way. Before creating any video content, set some video marketing goals first. Otherwise, you will invest in material that doesn't have any direction.
For more ideas, check out our post about creating a video marketing strategy on a budget, as well as our video content distribution strategy.
Trend #3: Metrics Matter Now
This is true, but it's not a trend. Metrics have always been important, and with content marketing getting increasingly competitive, it's more critical than ever. You need to track the performance of your assets. Seems obvious, right?
Not to everyone. Over half of both B2B and B2C marketers are not sure what determines whether a content program is successful. That means over half of marketers are making assumptions about their content performance. Scary.
You want to get up to speed with content reporting as soon as possible. You can use this insight to create better strategies and make changes as soon as you know something is not working. It's also useful for understanding what types of assets are delivering ROI, and worth investing more resources.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, you want to focus on:
- What assets you need to track
- The performance of your existing assets
- Your overall goals and objectives
If you don't have goals yet, you can use our three-year goal setting guide. You can also use HubSpot's SMART goal template to establish goals with more definition. From there, you can figure out which metrics will be vital for you to monitor on a month-to-month basis.
Trend #4: You Should Post Content on Different Channels
You want to distribute content as much as you can, but not all of your content will fit the tone or objective of every channel. At one point, it was okay to republish the same stuff from channel to channel, but now, people engage with content differently per platform.
You wouldn't necessarily watch a video from start-to-finish on Facebook, but on YouTube, you probably would. And there's an opportunity to capitalize on those preferences and find creative ways to reuse and repurpose articles and videos. To start, you can:
- Make your content into a SlideShare on LinkedIn.
- Edit your video file into a fifteen-second clip for Twitter or Instagram.
- Make an audio file and make a Soundcloud track. You can even create an ongoing podcast, and hook up your Soundcloud playlist to iTunes using an RSS feed.
- Take your content and post the article on Medium, or embed your video in an article on LinkedIn Pulse.
The more creative you can be here, the better. Can you take your content and change it up for a 7-minute podcast interview? Can you split it into an email newsletter series?
Bonus: When you repurpose content, you can get more value from your efforts and drastically reduce your content marketing budget.
Trend #5: You Need To Automate Everything
Some marketers will claim that automation is the future of content, it's not the end all be all. While you should automate some content and social media to save time and improve the customer experience, I'd argue that you should not automate all of your content.
There are a lot of excellent content marketing tactics that you need to do manually, such as posting an article on Medium, streaming a live video, or getting active on Reddit. And these efforts, despite being more work, pay off.
- 8% of marketers plan to add Medium to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months.
- Consumers spend three times longer watching live videos than pre-recorded videos.
- Reddit is now more popular than Facebook, and the third most popular site in the United States.
However, these manual tactics also require on-going effort. For instance, if you share your content on Reddit or Quora, you will want to invest time in building authority first.
The Key To Testing Out Content Marketing Trends
Let's say one of these trends hooked you, and you're ready to try it out. The most important thing to remember that no one individual tactic will be all of the content marketing you need to grow. The best content marketing strategies use an array of platforms, mediums, and formats to engage and nurture diverse audiences. You don't want to put all of your eggs in the same basket.
Any marketing trend you do adopt will also perform better if it were within an inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing is the best way to get ROI from your content efforts, and ensuring that all of your hard work pays off. We create inbound marketing strategies all the time, so if you're ready to create your own, we already have the groundwork.
Download our free EBook, Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain, to learn more.